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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Canadiens put improved mindset up against Blackhawks

Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks will try to snap a five-game losing streak Friday afternoon when they open a three-game homestand against the Montreal Canadiens.

The Blackhawks are tied with the Anaheim Ducks and Ottawa Senators for the fewest wins in the NHL with six. They enter the contest in the Central Division cellar with just 15 points following a 6-4 road loss to the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

The final score tells only a part of the picture of the disheartening loss for the Blackhawks.

Chicago, thanks to a Max Domi goal at the 9:37 mark of the third period, was cruising with a 4-1 lead before Dallas scored three times in less than four minutes to tie it. Radek Faksa then scored the game-winning goal with 1:33 left and Jason Robertson sealed it for the Stars with an empty-netter with nine seconds left.

Final tally: Dallas scored five goals in just 9:36.

“We had no business losing that game,” said Domi, who finished with a goal and an assist. “That’s a game we’ve got to find a way to win and close that one out. We were in complete control.”

Said Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson: “We didn’t have the same work ethic (in the third period) and sat back a little bit. They got some momentum and they started coming, and they’re a very good offensive team.

“We just didn’t handle it well. Unfortunately, I thought the guys worked really hard for 40, 50 minutes but the game’s 60 minutes. That’s just a tough lesson to learn, that we can’t sit back.”

Montreal, which has won two of its past three games, bounced back from an ugly 7-2 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres to earn a 3-2 road victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday.

Arber Xhekaj and David Savard scored goals 57 seconds apart to give the Canadiens a 2-1 lead early in the third period and Sean Monahan added an empty net goal.

“I’m happy with the mindset we had tonight,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said. “Simplified it a bit. We played a smart game and not beat ourselves early to get through the first five or six minutes, because I feel the last two or three games that’s put us behind the eight-ball.”

The Canadiens also got a big game from goalie Sam Montembeault who made 30 saves, including two breakaways in a 14-second span in the second period to keep the score 0-0.

It was a nice bounce-back effort for Montembeault who had allowed two goals in the first minute of the 7-2 drubbing by the Sabres a night earlier.

“We played better defensively, especially compared to the last few games,” Montembeault said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “We didn’t have as many turnovers. That was one thing that was really killing us and teams were creating a lot of offense off the rush. There weren’t that many shots tonight.”

Montembeault made a glove save on Mathieu Olivier’s breakaway after Olivier came out of the penalty box, and followed that up with another stop on Gustav Nyquist’s breakaway try just 14 seconds later.

“He’s amazing,” Xhekaj said. “He comes up big for us and that gives us energy and keeps us in the game.”

–Field Level Media



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